Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Riding Out Hurricane Sandy... Literally

After what felt like eons of hype and TV news coverage of varying degrees of hilarity (the segment on our local news that showed a reporter "fighting the savage coastal winds" while people calmly walked around in the background, seemingly unaffected by the same blasts of howling fury that he was, brought many chuckles in the Erickson house), Hurricane Sandy seems finally to be at an end. We fared quite well in general, though we were without power for about 12 hours and our favorite tree fell down in our backyard. Our barn cat is also currently MIA, though we haven't lost faith that he is up in the rafters somewhere, hiding out (big fingers crossed. I worship that cat.)

Yesterday before the wind got truly terrible, I decided to sneak a ride in on Ky to try to cheer myself up from the fact that the Eric Smiley clinic got canceled. Pa had the day off from school, so we made a quick scurry over to the indoor together and he very kindly took some video of me riding. I'm in the process of making my riding goals for the winter and next season, so I'm hoping these videos will be a good jumping off point and, come springtime, a good marker to show how far we've (hopefully) come.

My overall impression when reviewing the videos was a twinge of disappointment. He feels a lot better now than he did a month ago, but he still looks sooooo unsteady in the bridle at times. I feel like I'm pushing a lot of his buttons at once (trying to encourage more contact AND more sitting AND more expression AND more elasticity) and the resultant picture is a lot more rugged than I would like.

The upshot is that, by the end of the ride, when I eased off into more basic rising trot work, THAT felt really, really solid and much improved even from the time I got on. So I do think that pushing the envelope is helping to make his baseline level of work stronger, even if it looks a little ghetto at times right now. I just need to toe that line where I'm really testing him and pushing him to improve, without going into a place where he gets frustrated or backed off and the baseline stops getting better.

So here's a little of what I'm talking about. First, the opening sitting trot after warming up W/T/C:


So the problem I'm currently struggling with is that, when I go to sit, Ky's automatic reaction is to suck back a little bit and get even more guarded with the contact than normal. I'm trying to encourage him to keep reaching out without rushing into a quicker trot, which he finds difficult right now. I was pleased though that, in this clip, the second attempt at sitting, after a brief posting break to get him looser again, went significantly better. I think that will be the key to improving the sitting trot overall: using breaks of rising trot to replenish the quality of step and contact that will get shorter and shorter as his strength improves.



This was an exercise that I did with Kim, to great success, to try to get him a little less locked up in his neck and back. I need to keep following with my hand, especially my inside one, which tends to get superglued to my inside thigh in moments like this (whoops). Also, fix that left wrist!!!



Sometimes with the spiral in/spiral out, I feel like I lose my focus and let Ky get crooked in his body in the hopes of getting some looseness in exchange. Doing the leg yield down the longside took away that cheat opportunity, and required me to make him both straight and supple. We struggled. But I do think he trot improved by the end. Definitely something to keep working on!!



In the canter, I'm struggling with two things at the moment: a similar lack of throughness in the neck and shoulders, and a lack of strength in the hind end that currently makes maintaining the canter a bit of a challenge. I will say that his strength has improved a lot even in the past month since I've gotten home from California, so I'm feeling pretty good that we're on the right track and that it's just a matter of continuing to push him a little bit and ask for a more balanced and supple canter. I was really delighted with him in this ride because I really felt like there were moments where he relaxed over his topline and started stepping a lot better. I also chanced a flying change just to see if he would remotely do it, so please ignore its crappy late-behind-ness. I was pleased at the effort but know that he's not really strong or straight enough to be playing with a lot of flying changes, so I'll probably shelf it for now and then come back to it when he's feeling more consistent.



I was really pleased with him here, and thought that the canter at the end of this clip was some of the best we've had so far. We're still lacking any real semblance of sitting power, but the canter was forward, relaxed over the topline, and supple. I'll take it!

It's now brilliantly sunny and warm out--take that, Sandy! Let's just keep our fingers crossed that our barn cat reappears soon...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Jane Hamlin Lesson with Ky

Yeeeeeeeeee this pony is so awesome!!! We had a jump lesson today with Jane Hamlin in my continuing quest to get back some of my lost jumping confidence and start feeling ready to maybe head back out into the eventing world again. I haven't taken a lesson with Jane in a looooong time, but it was great to see her again. She loved Ky (how could she not??) and he was absolutely foot perfect. I finished up my lesson a very happy girl!!

We started out warming up on the flat, and Jane gave me some great advice about getting him more stable in the contact. Namely: give him a contact to be stable in!! I hate the feeling of him bouncing around off the reins, so without thinking about it tend to ride a little longer to try to avoid the situation. Instead, Jane had me ride with a fairly short rein and good heavy feeling in my elbows but quiet hands to try to give him a stable place to go to. It was a similar message to what Kim had told me, but clearly I needed to hear it again!


After that, we started jumping!! Eeeee! We started out nice and easy over a trot in, canter out cross rail to cross rail:

After getting the feel for the line, we started cantering in and Jane made the cross rails a little bigger, then turned the second cross rail into a cross rail oxer:


At first the three strides in the line felt verrry long with Ky's shorter stride, so Jane encouraged me to try to open his stride a little but sitting lightly on his back and giving my hand forward. It worked a charm, and soon Ky was making the distance easily.

(Showing pretty good eq if I do say so myself over one of the warm up oxers!)

After proving our proficiency at the line, we started doing some little courses. I was definitely a little apprehensive to jump fences without any placing rails or set stridings!! But as Jane reminded me, Ky has a lovely natural sense of rhythm that's probably better than my eye will ever be. If I create a good canter, stay out of his way, and guide him to the fence, he'll find a distance he can jump out of. Easier said than done, right? But I was actually pretty proud of myself! Here was our first course:


My definite tendency is to want to micromanage as many elements as possible. Jane, in addition to being an active competitor and eventing trainer, is also an FEI-level dressage judge, so she was definitely able to commiserate with this tendency and agreed that it was probably to my advantage to want to micromanage as an upper level dressage rider... but that in jumping and eventing, I had to let go and let things flow significantly more than I would naturally want to. Whenever I choked up or sat down and drove, Ky jumped badly. Whenever I stayed light and let him flow forward in a steady rhythm, he jumped beautifully. A good reminder!!

We did a second course with a little more technicality:


I redid the angled line a few times, as my initial response was to doubt his honesty, sit down, and drive him to a bad distance. I finally got it one last time where I sat lightly, got to a deeper distance, and instead of crumpling forward with my body or getting aggressive, I just stayed tall with my upper body and strong with my leg and let him jump up to me. And unsurprisingly, it was night and day better!

(Go pony!! Kate, keep that lower leg down!)

I'm feeling so incredibly lucky to have this horse in my life. He's such a gem! I had such a blast and can't wait to continue to learn from him at the Eric Smiley clinic next week... if the hurricane doesn't foil our plans!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Last Erickson Horse Show of the Year

Well, the days are getting shorter, the year is winding down, and now it's official: the Black Brook Farm show season is complete for the year. I'd originally planned to go to one last schooling show with Ky in November, but the only one I could find that seemed to fit my needs was the same weekend as my brother's wedding (pesky little detail, that). So I guess we're done for 2012--it was a short season (I did only go to two 'real' non-IDA shows, after all), but a good one.

(Me congratulating my mom after a great XC round - all these photos are courtesy of our friend Heidi from Sundog Pet Photography, who was visiting from Kansas)

And it certainly ended on a good note, as the last Erickson outing of the year was two weeks ago, when my mom took her Haflinger pony to their first show together ever at the Groton Pony Club Three Phase. I served as her coach, and definitely admit to getting more than a few butterflies watching them go! I'll never chide my parents for being nervous when I ride ever again, haha.

(Me looking a little grim as we loaded Audge onto the trailer)

Well my mom put those fears to rest, riding beautifully, safely, and putting in an accurate dressage test followed by two flawless jumping rounds. And... They won, too! They scored a 27.5 in the dressage (the best Erickson score of the year!) and led wire-to-wire. Good job, Mom! My mother is such an inspiration: she's incredibly dedicated to her extremely demanding career, and yet still finds time to be a wonderful parent and do the things she loves.




 (The Erickson crew)

 (Happiness!!)

Her support is what has made my dream of being able to ride a reality, and so it was so wonderful to get to see her getting a weekend of 'horsey limelight' to herself. She definitely brought the Erickson show season to an end with a bang! Hopefully a good omen for the 2013 season to come... :)

(Me in serious coach mode, getting ready to send Ma in for her stadium round. I think I look the part, right?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Big Day For Ky

Phew! Today was a big, big day for me and Ky. First, I finally managed to clip him after two days and three attempts (and several EXTREME tantrums on his part), thanks to a kind visit from our local vet and a little 'better living through chemistry.' (read: we tranq'ed him. heavily. and he was still kicking out by the time I finished.) I had to go very very fast before the drugs wore off, so he sort of looks like he got eaten by a lawnmower, but oh well. He won't catch a chill and die when I try to work him hard in the cold weather now.

(Punk.)

I don't normally like resorting to drugs and am definitely hoping to do some desensitization work with him over the winter so that clipping won't have to be such a massive to do next time, but for the time being this was clearly the best choice. Ky!! What a little pillbug!!

(Ringo, on the other hand, was a perfect gentleman and ground tied for his entire clip - what a proud little bear)

While Ky was recovering from his tranq dose, I hopped on Ringo and rode over for a lesson with Kim. It was more of what we worked on last time, but it was good to feel that we've improved a bit even with only three rides between last week and now. I also thought I did better with my position... until I got tired. Suddenly Kim's reminders about my wandering left wrist went from every 5-10 minutes to multiple times a longside. D'oh! But there definitely was progress. I'll take it.

After giving Ringo many pats and candies for a job well done, it was back to the little dude again to do something very exciting: JUMP!! I've only jumped Ky a handful of times EVER, so I deemed it might be prudent to get a little practice in before my clinic with Eric Smiley next week. (you know. maybe.)

Now, I also haven't jumped more than a few crossrails in, oh, 10 months or so. So, I set up two exercises that I hoped would both have a high chance of success while letting me get my position and eye back. One was a simple trot in one stride to one stride gymnastic, which went very well! We even got up to 3'3" in the grid, which Ky did without even flicking an ear:



The other was one of my favorite exercises from my time with Gina: a deceptively simple little set up called "The Diamond of Decision." The Diamond of Decision is essentially a vertical surrounded by a diamond of placing rails. It looks like this:


The idea is that you make a figure 8 over the vertical, cantering over the placing rails straight-on and jumping the vertical on an angle. It is a good test of rider accuracy (because there's really only one ideal route through the exercise--if you slice or take too much of the turn, the distance between the rails and the fence becomes either too gappy or too tight), encourages the horse to be clever and jump from the base, and introduces the horse to the idea of jumping on an angle.




I was a little wobbly on my accuracy at times, and the exercise really made that clear to me without punishing Ky. There was definitely one moment where I got the turn wrong, got to an angle that was too steep, and pulled a rail... with my foot:


Whoops. Perhaps I need shorter stirrups in future, haha.

But in the meantime, Ky was so awesome!!! I quit very early, as he was perfect, clever, jumped beautifully, and has really done zero jumping since August. Definitely a good start for our preparation for Eric next week--good boy, Sprog!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Riding with 'The End' in Mind

I'm back! What an amazing trip: Latvia was beautiful, the weather was unbelievable, and it was such a treat to spend some quality time with my mom. That being said, however, it's also very exciting to be back. These are probably some of the last few weeks (or days) of really nice weather that we'll have for the year, so I'm eager to take advantage of it by riding and being outside as much as I can.

(Boston looked pretty as a postcard as I landed)

Mostly, I'm very eager to get to work on the homework Kim set me in my last lesson. As I rode last night (because isn't it obvious that the best activity after a somewhat hellish multi-stop 17-hour trans-global journey would be to hop on some horses? I THOUGHT SO), it struck me that the work I need to do right now is really going back and assessing basics. Is the connection the best it could possibly be? Is my horse straight? Is he relaxed over his topline? Is he moving at the correct pace and impulsion to best strengthen and express his gaits? Am I blocking my horses with my position, or actively helping them?

Both my rides ended up being a lot of 20 meter circles, straight lines off the rail, maybe some gentle leg yielding, and easy changes of direction--no test movements, no complicated figures. I think some of my best skills as a dressage rider are my perfectionist-levels of attention to detail combined with my workhorse mentality (fun fact: when I went on a sea-kayaking trip in Alaska on my year off, we all gave each other nicknames--my nickname? Workhorse. Really.), meaning that these building block type skills should be something that I've got a pretty good handle on.

(Ringo and I hacking to the indoor last night to get some evening straightness practice in)

And yet, I am realizing quickly that they're not. I think that towards the end of the summer, as  I was really gunning towards getting the Bronze Medal, I shifted my emphasis away from the sort of humdrum day-to-day work that really cements the basics and towards something that, until recently, I've been fairly unfamiliar with... Showmanship. That is, practicing test movements and tours and focusing almost entirely on the frame and quality that was going to be actually judged in the tests I wanted to perform.

Growing up I always focused pretty much exclusively on basic riding, and almost never gave a thought to showmanship--I never practiced my tests, never even really practiced movements, so that my horses were usually pretty straight and supple, but we usually bombed hard in tests because I was generally unprepared for the pace and mental preparation that a difficult dressage test requires. So this summer, it had been a major coup to finally be able to ride tests that were polished, smooth, and well-prepared.

So was it wrong to focus on showmanship for a while? I don't think so. I think that basics and showmanship are two different aspects of what it takes to be a successful competitor, and two different parts of what it really means to "Ride with 'The End' in mind"--in this case, 'The End' being competitive success--a phrase I hear a lot getting thrown in riding discussions but am swiftly realizing that I'm only just beginning to understand.

In retrospect, it was probably good timing to focus on showmanship over the summer, when I was actually showing. But now in October, when I have a solid six months until my next competitive outing, it's time to return back to simple riding that's going to make me a better rider and my horses better athletes.

It may not be the most glamorous to spend 45 minutes spiraling in and out on a 20 meter circle (ok, no, I've never actually done that -- I think me and my horses would both die of boredom), but if I do my homework now, I'll have even more tools as my disposal when it comes time to start polishing and adding in showmanship again next spring.

(It's good to be home. Now let's get to work!)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Horses on the Brain



Greetings again from sunny Riga! Despite some awful jetlag troubles (was I awake last night from midnight to 7am? Why yes. yes I was), I've been loving visiting Latvia. I didn't have massive expectations either way, as I honestly didn't know much about Latvia and have visited very few of the former Soviet states, but I've fond the city to be absolutely lovely: small and walkable, with great architecture and a not-overly-touristy vibe. I wouldn't say there are massive amounts of famous attractions to go to, but since my vision of a good day in a foreign country is street-wandering and maybe sitting in a nice cafe from time to time, this dearth of big sights doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Of course, in classic fashion, however, it's been hard for me to fully enjoy myself without horses. I found not one, but THREE (!!!) equestrian magazines in the tiny newspaper stand I went to on my layover in Frankfurt (god bless those horse-loving Germans) and obviously had to have them all. My German is atrocious (I can pretty much say: "Ich liebe Pferde" (that would be "I love horses") and that's it) so they've mostly been picture books for me, but I've still found them to be a really cool insight into the horse world in another country.


All three of the magazines I bought, despite being October editions, were still dutifully recapping the Olympics and discussing the plan for 2016--pretty amazing, given that Germany did really well! Meanwhile in the US, though we were thoroughly trounced in all three Olympic disciplines, the analysis seems to have been some directly after-the-fact whinging and hair-pulling in August that has pretty much died away to nothing already. I would think that spending a little more time trying to plan for the future would probably benefit the losers even more than it would the winners, unless we want to find ourselves even further behind the times by Rio...

There was also a huge emphasis on bloodlines and breeding, with big breakdowns of the sire lines that were successful at the Games and various national championships. I don't think we do anything like that regularly in the US, so it was very interesting to see it so prominently featured in all three magazines I purchased.

(Also, it was pretty shocking to see a bare-headed rider on the cover of a magazine (the bottom of these three) -- some editor would surely be shot if that occurred in the US -- but that was more to be expected, given my understanding of the state of the helmet debate abroad versus at home.)


I have two more days in Latvia before heading home -- knowing my luck, that will be just enough time to get over jetlag here, so that I can fully experience it going the other way again!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Control the Shoulders, Control the World

First of all, greetings from Riga, Latvia! In a somewhat absurd turn of events, my mother has business here and managed to figure out a way to sneak me along for the ride. I haven't been on a business trip with her since I was a kid, and certainly never to a location as exotic as this, so I'm feeling pretty lucky! I'm here for the rest of the week, and then we're racing back to the farm to enter the last few frantic weeks of preparation before two back to back clinics at our house (Jane Hamlin and Eric Smiley) and my brother's wedding, also at the house--no rest for the wicked, clearly.

In the meantime, I got to squeeze in two lessons with Kim yesterday morning before leaving for the airport, one with Ringo and one with Ky. Kim recently successfully made her Grand Prix debut, so after some serious congratulations, we got underway, with Ringo leading off. What follows is a pretty comprehensive novel of the lesson experience with, admittedly, very few relevant photos or videos, so if you're in a rush feel or don't want to read 1000 words of lesson recap feel free to skip down to the summary and wrap up at the end (I don't blame you, haha).

Ringo

I stressed right from the beginning that I really wanted to work on my position, as my videos from my last lesson with Kim, plus a lot of the photos that my friend Patrick took of me riding Freddie, painted a pretty rugged picture in terms of rider crookedness. I know that my position is holding both of my horses back at the moment, and in these next few months of winter practice, I really want to work assiduously at getting straighter and stronger as a rider. Kim highly approved of this evaluation, and we set off.


(Not straight. At all.)

Right from the beginning, she was very picky about my position, and especially my oft-wandering left wrist and collapsing left shoulder. It was awesome! I felt somewhat idiotic to have to be told over and over and over again to put my left thumb back on top, but if that's what it's going to take to break that bad habit, so be it! Kim correctly pointed out that with my wrist the way it is now (I tend to break my wrist in and turn my thumb over to the inside), I can't use my arm properly and so can't form a steady connection with Ringo's mouth.

She also took me to task for sometimes wagging Ringo's head to make him falsely submissive in his neck, without actually making him straight and connected in his body. It was a bit of a wake up call to get called out on seesawing my horse's mouth (a cardinal sin if there ever was one!) but it was exhilarating to feel the difference in the connection when I did it properly.

Kim urged me to really control his shoulder with a steady outside rein, and then use my inside leg to add energy without resorting to waggling my inside hand. When I got control of his shoulders, he felt like a completely different horse - the connection to the bridle went from somewhat tenuous and something that I felt like I always had to fiddle with to keep in place to being rock solid, even, and easy, while his trot got instantly more powerful and supple.

For the duration of the lesson keeping this level of straightness was pretty much a series of constant corrections, as I've ridden him not-quite-straight with his shoulders to the outside for a loooooooong time now, so both of our natural tendencies were to immediately slip into bad habits again. Kim stressed that getting Ringo so that he was consistently straight, without constant correction, had to be one of my biggest goals for the winter, because without real straightness the move up to 4th level was going to be very, very hard. This was just the sort of homework I've been craving, so I'm really excited to work on building on what we worked on today over the next few weeks. We gave Ringo some big pats and moved on to the little Dude.

Ky

Kim had never met Ky before, so I started off by giving her a quick rundown of his history. Kim liked his conformation right away, and was impressed with his naturally uphill way of going. I was pretty honest with her that I've been struggling a little bit with getting him more steady into the contact, so we went right to work on trying to improve that. Kim also immediately picked up on the other major problem I've been struggling with, which is his current lack of adjustability in the trot: he'll either race along, or stall--neither ideal for dressage!


(My messed up left wrist strikes hard)

Working on a 20 meter circle, Kim had me try to ease Ky into a slightly slower trot while simultaneously adding energy to his step behind--easier said than done! The first few times, he pretty much jammed on the breaks when I asked him to slow down, locking his back and throwing his head up. My gut reaction was to go to my hand (which obviously is the wrong choice!), but Kim reminded me to be as steady and allowing with my hand as possible. She also reminded me that the reason he was bouncing off the reins was because he lacked confidence in the contact, which I was a little embarrassed to admit I had never considered before--Ky always seems so self-confident to me that I never imagine him being nervous or unsure at all. But Kim was right, and the quieter and more inviting I was with my hands and aids, the better he went. (funny how it usually works that way…)

As we worked on finding a happier medium in terms of pace and energy, Kim also had me add in some smaller circles with a following, opening rein and supporting inside leg to try to encourage him to unlock his neck and back and bend more. It was sort of the opposite problem of Ringo, who is hyper-flexible in his neck and so I had to think about straightening out.

Again, the difference in Ky's trot once I had him unlocked and moving more freely through his shoulder was incredible. He developed a lovely and powerful-feeling trot and became night-and-day steadier in the contact. We then added in spiral ins and outs to really solidify the feeling in the outside rein, and Ky was feeling like a real dressage pony!

We briefly touched on the canter, which Ky is still currently pretty weak in after his vacation while I was in California. Kim really stressed the importance of the upward transition, which I know is pretty crappy at the moment but, admittedly, have been sort of glossing over. She suggested I use a lower and wider hand to try to keep him more connected, but stressed that I should be thinking straightness in the transition more than anything else. It was really hard! But we definitely got a few good ones before the lesson was over.

The Take Away

With both horses, being able to control the shoulders was essential to improving their way of going. With Ringo, I needed to use a steady, capturing outside rein to bring his popping shoulder back in line with his body. With Ky, I needed to use a guiding inside rein and leg coupled with an inviting outside rein to encourage him to open up his shoulder and unlock his neck and back. In both cases, doing so made a VAST difference in the quality of the connection and trot.

So, what are my homework points to be able to work on this before my next lesson? I need to:

--Control my left wrist, with THUMBS ON TOP!!

--Ride with a steady, following hand: if I feel like either of them are stiffening or beginning to bounce off the reins, I need to avoid the temptation to try to quickly 'fix the problem' with my hands alone, and instead use smaller corrections to get them straighter in their body, which will make the problems in the reins go away. No seesawing!!

--Ride off the rail! Often!

--Be precise and accurate in transitions, stressing straightness, connection, and energy EVERY STEP OF THE WAY

--Use spiral ins/outs with Ky to get more unlocked and steady on outside rein

--Keep stressing adjustability in gaits without losing energy, especially with Ky--but ask from the seat, NOT the hand

I'm antsy already to get back to the US so I can get back to work! Ky is going to get ridden by my friend Robin, while Ringo is going to get the week off, so hopefully they'll both be feeling as fresh and ready to go as I am by the time I return.

Monday, October 15, 2012

14 Years Later...


...Not much has changed :)

(Though I'm not sure why Ky's butt looks so big in the present-day photo - I swear he actually has better conformation than that!)

Getting to ride Ky again has been an unbelievable treat. Hopefully he feels the same way, though there definitely has been some light a**-kicking of late to try to get him on the same page as me behavior wise (NO rooting NO eating grass when I'm trying to lead him in from the paddock NO pawing NO walking away from the mounting block NO trying to spin me off on the trail NO throwing a fit at the concept of a half halt... the list is extensive, haha). He's taken it all in stride though and has been a total champ of late, so I like to think that he's enjoying himself as much as I am. We even went on an awesome bareback ride through the park yesterday and managed to successfully encounter a massive fun run with no bad behavior whatsoever -- score!!

I'm going away for the large part of next week with my mom to accompany her on a business trip, which will give him some time to recover and reflect on the first two weeks of our partnership, and then we get to gear up for a clinic with Eric Smiley on the 28-29th. I haven't ridden with Eric in 5 years and am sooo excited!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

So I've had some pretty exciting news that I've been sitting on for a while now, but I wanted to wait until I got home and could take pictures of everything. To make a long story short...

I won a contest! A big one!

During the Olympics, Bit of Britain hosted a contest to try to predict the medalists of the different equestrian disciplines. I didn't think much about it, but on the closing day for guesses my roommate Leslie convinced me to take a try. I only did eventing, put my guesses in, and promptly forgot about it.

...Until mid-August, when I got a text from a friend congratulating me for winning!  It turns out that eventing was the only discipline where there were multiple people with equally correct guesses, so it came down to pulling a name out of a hat.

(One of those pieces of paper has my name on it! From the Bit of Britain Facebook page)

I have never won anything raffle- or sweepstakes-like like this in my entire life, so it definitely was a massive thrill! Bit of Britain came through and offered some seriously cool prizes--they didn't arrive until I'd already left for California so I just got to see them in the past week, and I've been blown away with how nice the quality is. I love everything!

I got:


 (A swanky Equifit half pad that I've been lusting over for a looooong time - so fancy! Ky approves)

 (An awesome Rambo blanket! Ringo approves, though he looks a little shifty in this photo)

 (A cute Kerrits jacket that I haven't worn yet but that looks great - I also got some Kerrits breeches that I've been wearing CONSTANTLY because they're soooo comfortable, but I didn't get a picture because they were disgustingly dirty by the time I thought about doing so)

 (Awesome fancy-stitched bridle!)

(A big tub of Cavalor goodies!)

So thank you, Bit of Britain!! I'm so thrilled, and I'm already putting almost everything to immediate good use. As a currently unemployed recent college graduate, getting a major boon like this really, really means a lot.

In other news, both the ponies are doing well and I'm getting excited to have my first lesson since August on Tuesday. I'm getting really pumped for the winter training season - bring it on! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm Baaaaaaaaaack

Well, I'm back in the homeland at last! It was quite a whirlwind trip, but I'm happy to be home. I'm still not really sure what I'm doing with my life, but I'm excited to spend some time figuring that out.

In the meantime, I'm sooo happy to be back with my ponies again. Ringo and Ky both look and feel great (thanks, Ma and Pa, for taking such good care of them!) and I can't wait to start getting ready for next season with both of them.

 (Adorable little sprog ears, out on the prowl)

 (Ky likes his new Equifit pad - more on that soon!)

 (The Cutest Creature)

That's it for now, but hopefully I'll have some more legitimate updates soon! Happy fall!!
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